Distinguishing between a lit review and a research article can sometimes be a challenging thing to do. Often, they look very similar. You'll find that they both are written using scholarly language, and occasionally lit reviews will contain charts and graphs. Some specific things to consider:
- Lit reviews are reviews of the literature available on a topic. When reading through one you'll find a large number of books and papers cited. Although lit reviews will occasionally draw conclusions on a particular topic, they will always be conclusions reached through their scholarly research, not through clinical or laboratory research.
- In a research article you'll always see the standard breakdown of the sections of a research experiment - materials, methods, discussion, etc. A lit review will not contain these components.
Unfortunately, databases don't have a magic button which will allow you to limit your search to only articles (no lit reviews) or only lit reviews (no articles). However, there are some limiters that are helpful. By searching selecting "Articles" the results you get back will be mostly research articles, although there will be some lit reviews included. This will help limit your search, but you'll still have to examine each article to determine whether it's a research article or a lit review.